While it is true that Australia lost the Test match in less than four hours of spineless batting in the first innings, the manner in which they fumbled in the second confirmed the worst fears - perhaps it was not a matter of will or intent, but just skill. James Pattinson and Peter Siddle provided the stoutest defiance, the last-wicket taking the action down to the last over of the day, after a half-hour extension, as Australia were bowled out for 235 and England won by 347 runs. (Stats)
After going 2-0 down in a series that is going to feel interminably long for Australian fans, it became clear that unless the top order sorted itself out in a hurry, there was only one way matches were going to end. After being bailed out by the last wicket twice at Trent Bridge, Australia insisted that they were better than that, and even rang in the changes. (Match in pics)
But, when England declared their second innings at Lord's on 349 for 7, after Joe Root, resuming the fourth day on 178, added just two to his score before falling short of a well-deserved double century, Australia had a chance to show that they were here in England to play good, hard cricket, even if that did not necessarily translate into wins or draws. The target, notionally 583 runs, should have been broken down into smaller goals. (Also read: Glenn McGrath laments Australia's Lord's 'horror')
For Shane Watson, the aim should have been to find a way to score without plonking his front foot down the pitch. Watson needed to show that he could do more than score forceful 30s and 40s, but once again he was playing around his pad and nailed plumb in front of the stumps. The bright side of this wasted opportunity to learn something out in the middle was that Watson resisted the temptation to throw away a review.
For Chris Rogers, who is regarded highly by those who have watched him pile on the runs at one level below Test cricket, this was a chance to show that there was room for a late bloomer, at 35, to put in a year or two of solid service for his country. But, if Rogers believes he belongs at the highest level, it does not show in his batting. Graeme Swann, bowling round the stumps, got a ball to turn sharply from the rough, albeit wide outside off, clearly showing the batsman how much the ball was doing. Along came the one that went with the arm, and Rogers dutifully shouldered arms, going for 6 off 29 balls. (Pietersen suffers calf injury)
For Phil Hughes who has got himself a promotion to No. 4, the innings, with no real pressure to try and move the game forward, was a chance to show that he trusted his defence against spin on a wearing pitch. When you don't trust your defence, you're either forced to attack balls that you would normally deal with differently or be tentative and, after 21 balls that yielded one run, it was clear that Hughes had not worked out how he wanted to bat at the top of the order.
Usman Khawaja and Michael Clarke put on 98, but all this did was give the Marylebone Cricket Club a chance to mop up a bit at the beer tents, food stalls and souvenir shops. Khawaja was organised, occasionally purposeful in attack, while Clarke realised there was little chance of survival if he did not attempt to hit the bowlers off their lengths. That Clarke (51) and Khawaja (54) fell within 13 minutes of each other showed just how determined England were; the part-time offspin of Root accounted for both batsmen, Clarke tickling down leg and Khawaja offering slip a conventional chance.
Just when it appeared that Steve Smith had resolved the confusion over exactly what his role was - a batsman who occasionally bowled - his legbreaks have shown much promise while his batting has grown unconvincing. Smith walks out to the wicket so full of confidence each time, that it sometimes appears as though he is oblivious to the state of the game - 134 for 4 chasing 583 on the day - and while this can be a great attribute when the runs are flowing and the victories stacking up, it will begin to grate sooner or later when things aren't going your way. On Sunday (July 21), Smith curbed his enthusiasm enough to only make 1 run from 14 balls before nicking to the keeper. The old review was called for, but Hot Spot showed a faint inside edge, and that was that.
Ashton Agar, whose average has gone from Bradmanesque to Agaresque in the span of a week, could have used this innings to show that his debut 98 was no flash in the pan. A repeat would have been asking for too much, but if he had helped himself to a pleasant 30 or 40 it would have done his chances of staying in the eleven for the next Test no harm. Bowling figures of 0 for 142 in a game where Swann and Root have got the ball to sing, and a hip injury, might well mean a way back for Nathon Lyon at Old Trafford. Agar went swishing outside off, and though Hot Spot showed no mark, audio evidence was enough to persuade Tony Hill, the third umpire, to ask Marais Erasmus to change his original decision.
Brad Haddin could not extend the debate over the Decision Review System, unfortunately, as Australia had used up all their reviews by the time Kumar Dharmasena gave Haddin out lbw to a sharply spun delivery from Swann that replays suggested would have slipped down the leg side.
Pattinson, who defends with great care and drives down the ground beautifully, made 35, and along the way embarrassed his teammates and delayed the inevitable. But, he could not do enough to force England to come back for a fifth day.